Alternate Mandolin Tuning

Wendy Anthony

Alternate tuning can be set for each mandolin string, to create tunes with cross-tuning or differently tuned double-strings. Notes for each of the 4 string-pairs can be changed. The double-strings can also be changed by making each string in a pair a differently tuned note.

  1. Start with a new file: File > New > Mandolin > OK.
  2. In Score menu > choose Instrument.
  3. In Module Tab > Set String Number for the appropriate tuning:
    • 4 (double-strings tuned to same note)
    • 7 or 8 (double-strings tuned to different notes - see Note below)
  4. Choose MIDI instrument voice from drop-down list. Acoustic Guitar (steel) is often used for Mandolin.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. In Tuning Tab > choose the note for each string by using up/down arrows. Mandolin is usually tuned G1-D2-A2-E3. Click Speaker Tune button to hear the string notes played.
  7. Click OK.
  8. File > Save template.
Note: Unfortunately, with 8 strings, both top-strings cannot be tuned E3, or you loose the tab lines! C3 is the highest the 7th-string can be tuned. If both top-strings will be tuned to E3, in Step 3. choose String Number: 7, and have only this string representing both E3 strings.

An example of a TablEdit tune with cross-tuning is My Last Days On Earth, a Monroe tune in Dm. This tune is tuned one octave low in voice, using Clef tab 8va, because the E-string can not be tuned higher than E3. Be aware that this tuning increases the tension on your mandolin!